So how do you get started? It's all so overwhelming. I went to a couponing class. A wonderful friend of mine practically forced me to go with her and I'm so glad she did. The woman who taught the class has been doing this for a long time and gave us a lot of information. It was still overwhelming but at least she gave me the tools and the ambition to get started.
One thing I learned right away is that you're not going to save a lot of money right off the bat. If you are careful and you do it right you shouldn't be spending more money on your groceries than you have been already but you might not see a huge saving right away. What will happen though, is that you'll be getting more for your money and the idea is to start stock piling things when they're very cheap so that you can use them during times where you might not have sales or coupons available to get bargains. For example, if a store is having a sale that would make toothpaste practically free, you'll want to buy at least a few tubes of it even if you don't necessarily need it that week. When you're first starting out this won't reduce your grocery bill because you wouldn't have bought toothpaste that week anyway but later down the road when you run out and you don't need to add it to that week's grocery list you'll start to see the savings. I read somewhere that you won't typically see a savings for about six to eight weeks after you start bargain shopping so don't get discouraged.
So where do you start? First thing you have to do is start collecting coupons. Lots, and lots of coupons. It really used to be that the only place to get coupons was the Sunday paper. That's still one of the best places but with technology today you can also find a ton of coupons online that you can print. There are specific coupon websites such as Red Plum and Smart Source, but companies are also really utilizing Facebook, and are offering exclusive coupons, and in some instances, freebies on their pages.
Clinique is going to be giving away 100,000 free samples of their mascara to their Facebook fans who enter a drawing.
Ocean Spray is sending out coupons for free samples of their new sparkling juice drinks. Every day they release a certain amount of coupons so you have to watch for them to post that they've added more for that day and then be one of the first however many to go to their page and request your free sample.
Poland Spring has a $1.00 coupon available to their Facebook Fans. Shaws has the Aquapods on sale for just $1.00 this week which would make it free.
Another place to look for coupons is around your grocery store. Some good places to be on the lookout are near the front of the store where they put out the fliers, near the deli and meat counters, and by the beer and wine. Don't stick to these places exclusively though because they can be hiding anywhere around the store.
Magazines will sometimes have coupons. One of my favorites is the All You magazine. Every month there are nearly $100 in coupons in the magazine. It's also a fantastic magazine in general.
Every magazine is packed with recipes, craft ideas to do with the kids, cheap decorating tips, holiday ideas, weight loss tips, financial advise, and just a ton of other great articles. I love it so much that I bought subscriptions for my mother, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law for Christmas and they all seem to be enjoying it as well.
You can also try contacting companies and letting them know that you either like or dislike their product. I've heard of others having great experience with this. I have had limited success so far. I sent emails to Birds Eye letting them know that I really enjoy their Steamfresh vegetables and they sent me a single $0.25 coupon in the mail. I had slightly better luck with Barber Foods who mailed me a postcard with two $1.00 coupons. I highly suggest that one of the first things you do is to create a separate email account to offer up when filling things out in hopes of getting coupons. Otherwise you'll quickly find your inbox inundated.
If all this information and all the websites are overwhelming you please take a deep breath and wait for tomorrow's entry where I'll give you some hints on how to let other people do most of the work for you. There are people out there who search out the best deals and provide them to you so that you don't have to do all the research yourself. Preparing for your shopping trip will still take more time and effort than it used to but letting others do some of the leg work for you will save you a ton of time.